It’s been sitting atop the PSA Registry chart for a long time, but by Sunday night, the only 1986 Topps set made up completely of PSA 10-rated cards will have a new owner.
Long-time collector Kevin Roberson of Sacramento, CA, is selling the set on eBay where bidding has already surpassed $55,000 ahead of Sunday night’s close. He spent several years chasing what he needed to finish the 396-card set, highlighted by the Jerry Rice rookie card.
Roberson, who goes by Elite Cards on eBay and online, has been selling off his run of complete, graded football sets from 1971-’86 for over two years. The ’86 Topps is his favorite–and last to hit the market.
“I was already a baseball card collector when I met Jerry Rice back in 1998 from a mutual friend of mine in Stockton,” he told us. “All of us went to lunch at a restaurant down the street and we had a great time. Jerry was a super friendly person and we met a few times after that. He even came to the place where I worked and brought me a autographed football and jersey. After meeting Jerry I decided to buy his rookie card from the 1986 Topps football set. The set had so many other great rookie players I decided to start building the set was the goal of building a perfect PSA 10 set. At the time only 140 of the total 396 different cards in the set had revived a grade of PSA 10, so I was doubtful a perfect PSA 10 set could ever be built, however a collecting challenge is what I enjoy most about collecting sports cards.”
The set features eight cards that are the only PSA 10s in existence; 14 that have a population of two and 26 that are among those with only three PSA 10 examples including Refrigerator Perry’s rookie card. His set was entered into the PSA Set Registry Hall of Fame earlier this year.
The 1986 Topps football set is known for a solid rookie class. In addition to Rice’s first card, it also includes NFL rookie cards of Steve Young, Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Andre Reed, Bernie Kosar and Boomer Esiason, among others. It also includes third-year cards of John Elway and Dan Marino along with 1980s staples Joe Montana and Walter Payton. Roberson has them all in PSA 10, despite the green-colored borders that often accentuate even the slightest touch of wear.
“For years I would look at the PSA pop report and as soon as a new card received a PSA 10 becoming a pop 1 , I would start my search for the card. Sometimes collectors would reach out to me letting me know they have a pop 1 PSA 10 card I need for my set. Other times I would have to reach out to my network of friends and fellow collectors to find the card. On several occasions some of the PSA 10 pop 1 card took me a few years to locate and purchase. At one point I had the #1 through #4 1986 Topps football registry sets. I had to buy a few compete sets to acquire some of the cards I needed. The Steve Young card #374 is another very tough card to find with a low pop of 9 or 10. The Young card in PSA 10 if fetching over $10,000 now catch up with the price of the Jerry Rice.”
“I owned 3 Rice #161 PSA 10s at one point,” Roberson revealed. “One of these I purchased at the National in Chicago and the others were in sets that I purchased so I could get other cards I needed. I have sent in over 100 Jerry Rice cards to be graded and unfortunately I have never received a PSA 10.”
Roberson has already sold his 1971-1985 run of football sets including:
- 1971 Topps football set $175,00 including the 1971 Terry Bradshaw Rookie PSA 10 POP 2
- 1972 Topps football set $140,000 including the Roger Staubach Rookie PSA 10 pop 2
- 1975 Topps football set approximately $50,000
- 1984 Topps set that was 99% PSA 10 approximately $85,000
- 1986 Topps # 2 set $55,000
“”I hate to say it but the prices I sold many of the football cards I sold two years ago have doubled in value as of today. The last few years the prices of Hall of Fame rookie cards in high grades have launched upwards.”
Roberson says he’s sold off his football card sets to focus exclusively on his growing collection of high-grade basketball cards.
“Basketball has always been my favorite sport to collect. I’m a big Jordan fan. I also like basketball cards because they are much rarer than baseball and football cards. Today I am mostly collecting high grade rookie cards from Hall of Fame players. I did just finish building a complete set of 1957 Topps basketball in all PSA 8 or higher. My real pride and joy set is my Basketball Hall of Fame rookie set that is currently #2 on the PSA registry. That set has many very high grade cards including my 1957 Topps Bill Russell in PSA 8.5 and I have a half dozen or so Hall of Fame rookie cards in PSA 10 grade that are Pop 1. My goals for the future are to continue to upgrade these two basketball sets and I am starting to buy unopened old vintage basketball and football wax boxes.”
The 1986 Topps football set will almost certainly become the most expensive 1986 football set ever sold. Last year, Heritage Auctions sold the third-rated set on PSA’s Registry for $60,000, but it included 56 cards that were graded “only” mint 9.
You can check out the auction listing here. Bidding is set to end Sunday evening.